Protect the Boss: Episode 4

Your Honor, I’m really looking forward to recapping this episode. I watched it twice and it was so good…

There’s no need. I’ve written it for you. Don’t edit anything. And leave out my name.

WHAT? You watched Episode 4 and recapped it? But how, Your Honor…

Your last recap reeked of a certain reptilian stench. Use my draft; I stayed up to write it. And no screen-captures this time.

But Your Honor! A recap is incomplete without screencaps! I already took 838…

Words should paint pictures; you don’t need images cluttering up your writing. But if you insist, then just TWO: one that makes you laugh and one that makes you cry.

Your Honor, please! I will lose all my readers! They will think I’m eccentric and leave in droves. Even my guest bloggers will flee and I’ll be the only…

Stop whimpering. A little solitude is not going to kill you.


I’m 61. Work keeps me busy; it occupies my mind and restrains it. Otherwise my thoughts are prone to drifting, to faraway places and distant memories. So I read. I read a lot. History. Literature. Anthropology. Even can labels.

Every week I will watch a movie. And always I’ll sit in the last row in the theater. If I’ve had a long day I would sometimes fall asleep and not wake until I feel a hand on my shoulder and a voice above my ear: “Sir, the show’s over.”

Why am I telling you this?

Because you might look at me and think I’m someone who would never watch a Korean drama. But I want you to see that I’ve always been interested in storytelling and make-believe. As an undergraduate student I dabbled in creative writing and even contemplated a career as a writer. But my dad said there was no money to be had in holing myself up in the attic and pounding away on my typewriter. Why not turn my love for words into something useful?

Fathers are that way, dispensing advice whether you ask for it or not. But my dad didn’t cajole; he dropped a seed of possibility and let it germinate inside my head. When I finally (and also rather reluctantly) accepted the path of law school, Dad took out a mortgage on the house. “You just study and leave tuition fees to me. I’ll make sure you succeed no matter what.”

You see now why the shareholders’ meeting in this episode resonated with me? Sure it gets off on a comical note when Eun-seol trips over nothing and drops bottles of water on the bosom of Moo-won’s startled mother. Never a dull moment with Ms. Klutz around. Just ask Moo-won. He hasn’t been this bemused in years. But Eun-seol is not the reason why this particular meeting struck a chord with me. It’s the chairman.

Listening in growing exasperation as Moo-won’s mom rattles off a list of reasons why Ji-heon is ill-equipped to be the company heir, Chairman Cha exclaims with a temerity that stuns everyone present: “When I decide on something, I will see it through. I’ll take personal responsibility for Ji-heon. If he falters or fails, I’ll step down as the head of DN Group.”

A father putting his job and reputation on the line for his son. A grandmother who rarely speaks at such meetings but who chooses to speak now. Urging everyone present to give her son and grandson a chance, she says, “Twenty-five years ago people doubted Cha Bong-man’s ability. But look at how he has transformed this company into one of the country’s top conglomerates. Let us once again watch him.”

My father is gone now. But I will always remember how he watched me. And how he also waited, sometimes quietly and sometimes impatiently, for me to find my way in the world.

This watching and waiting. I suppose grandparents do that better than the rest of us, simply because they have done it longer. But they don’t always do it like the matriarch in the family, hiding almost cheekily behind a tree in the garden and behind a hat and shades. So the grandmother spies on her son and chides him for a conflicted spirit that only she sees; he can’t sleep because deep down he still doubts if Ji-heon can really pull it off. Has he forgotten how years ago he himself proved the naysayers wrong and became a chairman who made his mother proud?

And indeed what the chairman sees every night, as he opens the door ever so slightly and watches, is a Ji-heon immersed in his work. Because without realizing it (what the world deems a moment of recklessness is really just the outburst of a father who can’t stand seeing his son publicly belittled any longer), that proclamation of trust at the shareholders’ meeting is precisely the courage that Ji-heon has sought after losing it in the months following his brother’s death. He lost his bearings but will now find them again. For his father’s sake.

Although our lot in life is far different and his is after all fictitious, I think I know how Ji-heon feels.

I do not profess to be brave. On the contrary my disposition is melancholic and pessimistic. I think too much and often about things that render my mood somber. Not that I do not possess a sense of humor; I think I do. Sometimes I laugh more loudly than anyone else in the theater; sometimes I’m the only one who laughs. But by nature I’m not given to much bravado or risk-taking. I despise attention and prefer the company of my books above everything else. If left to my own devices I may not leave my room for days except to eat and use the bathroom. But when one day my father said across the dining table, “Son, I know you can,” and that was all he said the duration of that breakfast, somehow we both knew what he was talking about. I sent out the application to law school that afternoon.

Well. As someone who supposedly shuns attention, what am I doing writing a drama recap? Who’s going to read this except that Thunderbolt? And maybe even she won’t read it, not to the end and not with the kind of attention that I hope she would give it. When the idea first crossed my mind, I dismissed it as utterly ludicrous. When it refused to die, I stomped on it; I tried to choke it to death. Because I’ve been told my writing style is prosaic and even pedantic. Yes, I remember now. That writing class and the professor’s comments on my final extended piece which he summed up thusly: “Flat characterization and a decidedly lifeless narrative.”

His words hurt. They hurt me for days and weeks. I guess it doesn’t take a momentous event to rock one’s confidence to the core. Of course in Ji-heon’s case it was more than momentous; it was altogether horrific.

Yet there is joy somehow and much laughter to be had. Without trivializing Ji-heon’s mental condition—he is unwell to a certain degree and needs medication—this episode was quite delightful, mostly because of Na-yoon and her zaniness.

Perhaps it’s too early to make such a declaration, but at this stage I like Na-yoon the most. The moment she marched up to Eun-seol and stuck that ice-cream cone into Eun-seol’s unsuspecting bottom, I knew I loved her.

Because I’m a judge. I meet all sorts of people. It’s not always easy but generally I’ve learned to sift out the liars and the phonies. I like Eun-seol; the actress playing her is excellent. But Eun-seol is a little too perfect and endearing and her expressions occasionally unreal, like when she widens her eyes too much and I wonder how it is possible that her eyeballs do not fall out. There’s really no need to look perpetually gobsmacked.

Na-yoon, in contrast, is off-kilter in a way that makes me guffaw. On one hand she tries to appear classy and collected; on the other hand she’s not afraid to look like she’s totally lost it. There’s no pretense about her, no niggling suspicion that she’s holding back or dialing it up. Her expressions, although always dramatic, feel real and unrehearsed. Her lips really do quiver; her nostrils really do flare up. She’s just wonderful.

I guess I’ve always been attracted to women who are the complete opposite of me.

Speaking of attraction, this seems to be the episode where Ji-heon realizes that Eun-seol is more than just a secretary to him. So it isn’t just Na-yoon who is feeling jealous and insecure; her ex-boyfriend is feeling the same way but not on her account. But whereas Na-yoon’s jealousy is on display for everyone to see, Ji-heon’s is a new and uncomfortable feeling that he tries to suppress in public and to deny in private.

But when the chairman kicks the Eun-seol standee in his son’s room and causes it to break, that’s when an upset Ji-heon is forced to confront the truth: even a life-sized cardboard likeness of his secretary is precious to him.

I think Ji-heon needs to confront something more: the fact that he’s an adult and not a little boy anymore. Thankfully neither his father nor his grandmother sees him sitting on the floor and frantically apologizing to a faceless and broken standee. Because even for someone old and jaded like me who’s seen more than my share of the weird, it’s still a sight that leads to all sorts of troubling conjectures.

Still, I must admit that my affection for Ji-heon has deepened since watching this episode. I get why Thunderbolt likes him so much and why she kept gushing about him in her first three recaps; there’s just something about him that makes one feel protective and almost maternal (or paternal). You can’t watch him throw himself into his work and not feel like rooting for him to succeed. He’s just so very earnest and dogged. I think that’s what my father waited for years to see in me: that sense of purpose.

I mentioned earlier that this is the episode where Ji-heon becomes aware that he’s attracted to Eun-seol. He also becomes aware, from overhearing a conversation she has with the other office secretaries, that she does not feel the same way for him. In fact, she does not even see him as a man. Ouch. That’s the worst thing one can say to any male above the age of three.

So when she comes into his office bearing coffee and a bossy attitude, he seizes the chance to show her that he’s every bit a man. As he leans close, his face just inches from hers, their eyes lock and an unexpected thing happens. His heart is pounding. Hers as well, if her body language is any indication. “You’re trembling,” he says triumphantly, not realizing he is seconds away from getting his nose smashed onto the ground. “Do that again and I’ll break every bone in your body,” she warns, her heart still racing.

And that’s why, minutes later and away from Ji-heon but witnessed by Moo-won, an empty beverage can sails through the air from Eun-seol’s shoe to Na-yoon’s forehead. To my delight, Na-yoon reacts as if she’s been hit by a brick. Watching her flap and flail as Eun-seol apologizes profusely, a tickled Moo-won can’t stop laughing.

I suppose at this juncture I should explain to that mashcap blogger, Thunderbolt, why I was taken with Moo-won in Episode 2, the first time I watched the drama.

It’s simply this: Moo-won’s eyes remind me of my son’s eyes. His smile as well. The resemblance is quite startling. Has it been fifteen years? I don’t dream of him as often now and I try not to think of him too much when I’m awake. It’s not always easy and this drama is making it harder but I try.


Where was I? A laughing and happy Moo-won. Yes, let’s talk about that. At the theme park with Eun-seol. At the café with Eun-seol. He just lights up in her presence.

Moo-won hasn’t yet confronted his feelings, though, unlike a jealous Ji-heon who flies into a rage when he sees his secretary with his cousin at the café. How can she be hobnobbing with his rival? And so soon after their all-nighter at the office and after he had gazed at her so tenderly as she slept? If she possesses any intuition at all, can’t she see that she’s gotten under his skin and that he can’t stop thinking about her?

But at least things are looking up at work. He has a fantastic idea for the theme park project. Now to get the proposal approved at the next directors’ meeting. But his father tells him: “You’ve got to make a formal presentation, Ji-heon. You’ve got to speak to the directors and convince them.”

Why did it take months before I mustered the will to apply to law school? Because I’ve always disliked public speaking, that’s all. A person who’s squeamish about blood should not be a doctor, in the same way one who hates addressing an audience should not be an attorney. That’s what I thought.

I’ve never regretted taking that leap of faith. Okay, on a few occasions I did.

To conclude, I’m 61. I don’t cry easily these days when I watch my movies and I try to stay away from the ones that might make me sad. But as I see Ji-heon struggling to overcome his fear of speaking before a large gathering, his mind imagining the derisive cackles of disapproval as he stumbles yet again, my heart goes out to him. I remember what it feels like. Still, the tears do not threaten, not until the end of the episode.

On the day of the directors’ meeting, when the minutes tick by and Ji-heon has still not arrived, it seems apparent that the chosen heir of DN Group has let his father down. But has he? A breathless but beaming Eun-seol runs into the meeting room. The presentation starts. Everyone gasps.

Way to go, my boy. Way to go.


Note: The author of this article has exerted the right to remain anonymous. If you suspect that someone you know might be the author, speedily dispel the thought.


22 thoughts on “Protect the Boss: Episode 4

  1. Ji Heon’s public speaking phobia so brings back memories of high school. I think I called in sick for like 2 or 3 days once because I was afraid to give a presentation. Of course eventually I had to explain to the teacher about my “issues” and he let me write a paper instead. 🙂

    I see so much of myself in Ji Heon which is probably a big reason why I love him so much! Ji Heon, hwaiting! Now if only we all had a Eun-seol to help us and be our “rock”. Hehe

    Anyways, as usual I have some gifs for this ep too!

  2. Omg – hands down the most sincere and heart warming “recap” I’ve read in years. Parts of it made me cry almost and then the rest just left me speechless in awe. Seriously -there is a writer’s soul in almost every line. No recap should be this moving. It was like the episode was a catalyst for self actualization. That line about what your professor wrote on your essay made me remember mine, except it was the opposite. He was my psych professor and I was a psych major, but he told me to pursue literature or journalism as a major. His words still linger in my mind during moments of self doubt – he wrote on my psych paper that I had a way of being able to express myself on paper better than any student he had known. That was the moment I realized how words have the power to plant seeds of potential, lift a sagging spirit, and make a person beam for years to come. 🙂 I loved every word of this “recap” and the fact that it only had two screencaps wasn’t even distracting since your words filled the void.

    • Thank you, Softy. Your sweet professor is absolutely right about you and your writing.

      BTW, in case anyone is wondering… The judge ≠ thundie. 🙂

  3. Riiiiighhhtttt…Ok, Thundie. Please convey my profound gratitude to the anonymous writer of this great recap. I love his wisdom, insight and evocative words. I hope to read more from him in the future.

    How are your lizards? I hope they are all doing well. By the way…what are you going to do with your 838 screen caps now? Can you post some here? Anyway, the two you posted are great selections. I know you chose them very carefully.

    • Hi wits,

      This was hands down the hardest recap I’ve ever written. When the idea dropped (out of the blue as usual), I fought it tooth and nail for two days. I was petrified, paralyzed by fear…

      In the end the idea won (as usual) even though I wanted to bail up to the very last minute (when the post was written but not published yet). I truly adored the episode and took, yes, 838 screencaps. (The harebrained idea came a day after I had screencapped the episode.)

      Did I want to use as many of my screencaps as possible for this post? Definitely, because I had so many favorite scenes. But somehow… and I don’t even know how to explain this without sounding like a total lunatic, I felt (and continue to feel) a very strong commitment to the spirit of this piece. That means… just two screencaps: one that made me laugh and one that made me cry.

      To illustrate how hard I struggled with this, hours after I had published the post, I actually resized some screencaps and was planning to use them in the comments. Consider it a last-ditch attempt to salvage the situation in case the recap turns many people off because it’s just all words and written in so dry a manner, too.

      In the end, however, it didn’t feel right for me to post screencaps in the comments. (This doesn’t apply to Kristal’s awesome gifs, of course. 😆 Moar, Kristal, moar!) Again I don’t know how to explain this logically, but for some reason this recap feels “sacred” even though everything about the judge is just the fruit of my warped imagination; none of it is based on real life…)

      During the two days that I was fighting the idea and trying to kill it (not one word written at that stage yet), I did make some headers with a few of the screencaps. A desperate act of rebellion, maybe. 😀


      • Dear Thundie, I understand… Episode 4 was one of my favourites of PTB too (makes you feel all kinds of wonderful things doesn’t it?). Presenting this recap from the judge’s unique perspective is just brilliant. Just like your lizards’. Those approaches make you…one of the best out there. I’m not hung up on the screen caps… was just wondering… I always love your writing and awed by your talent. Please keep it up.

  4. A whole recap of my favorite part, the comments at the end, I love it. Thundie, true to your word, you said each recap would be different. I’ve like them all. I usually stay away from anything written in 1st person but your judge speaks “my language”, it was a real pleasure. Ever think about introducing the judge to Gertrude?

  5. Thundie,

    This is such a delightful treat.

    Please extend my thanks to the kind judge for taking the time to write this recap. It is very touching to read his personal experience and yet this recap makes me laugh the hardest.

    I know that kind Sir wanted to remain anonymous but i am just curious if he is the guru you are refering to in your previous post about “what kind of kdrama viewer are you?”

    i have always wondered who that person is. At one point I was thinking that it is Samsooki since you said it’s a “he”. I dont know, im just wondering.

  6. hi thundie,
    your recap makes me appreciate PTB more. this one is specially uniquely awesome (for lack of better word). thanks a bunch! ’til the next recap then. 🙂

Have your say

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s